Thomas Awiapo

Timely Story Inspires Clean Water Mission

Have you ever been frustrated, burdened and overwhelmed by the problems of our world? Have you ever been tempted to resign to fate and adapt the do-nothing-attitude? I have been hit hard and troubled by both. Today, I have been inspired by the words of Bishop Ken Untener and the story of Jan Kline of St. John Vianney parish in Kirkland, WA.

In the words of Bishop Untener, “We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us…We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something and do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is the beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God to enter and do the rest.”

These words and spirituality were made real with the story of Jan Kline. Jan Kline visited CRS in Ghana four years ago. She traveled with me in a CRS vehicle on a dead bumpy and dusty road for miles unending to the village of Jawani in Ghana. She wanted to experience a maternal and child care clinic session. At the meeting, Jan was pleased to hear me tell pregnant women and lactating mothers to practice personal hygiene and make sure their babies drink safe clean water to protect them from water borne diseases. One of the mothers staring at me with surprise asked, “Where and how can we get clean water in our village?” What a pity! I did not have an answer for her. The only source of water they had was a pond.

This was a turning moment in Jan’s life. She was speechless and fought back tears. “Water is life and a basic human right” said Jan Kline and no one should suffer this way for lack of clean water. It was there and then she made a firm and passionate resolution to do something about it. Today as I write the story, Jan Kline has raised funds among the good people of Seattle to provide 20 boreholes in 20 communities including Jawani – thus extending access to safe drinking water to many people in Northern Ghana. The gift of water is the gift of life. What a great gift! Thanks a lot Jan Kline.

In the last couple of days, Jan led a seven member delegation from Seattle to visit some of the beneficiary communities in Northern Ghana to celebrate the gift of water with the people. I had the pleasure to be the host and the tour guide as they visited and interacted with these communities. I asked Jan, how did you managed to raise so much money for 20 boreholes in this harsh economy? She answered, “I simply went home and told the story to my family, my friends, neighbors, parishioners, Christians and Non-Christians. The magic is, tell the story to the right people at the right time and the response will be unbelievable.”

During meetings with community members, culture was exchanged, challenges and hopes shared with joy, meals and gifts were shared, love of one another experienced – thus making solidarity real. At the end of the visit, one of the delegates said, “I thought it was about water – but it’s much more than water. It’s about experiencing the people, their love, their generosity and their care for each other. We are all part of the human face of God. My call now is to share that human face of God with as many people in the US as much as I can. I am called to solidarity. I cannot do less.”

– Thomas Awiapo
As a child in Ghana, Thomas Awiapo was a beneficiary of CRS school feeding programs. Now, as an adult, he works for CRS Ghana and travels to the U.S. annually to tell his inspiring story to American Catholics at schools, parishes and communities. Thomas will be a featured guest blogger and will be reporting from Ghana about the issues he witnesses firsthand.

Watch the video: Empowered for Life: The Thomas Awiapo Story.

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One Response to “Timely Story Inspires Clean Water Mission”

  1. Peter Wickstrand Says:

    Thomas,
    I read your blog about Jan Kline and the wonderful contribution she is making to villages in Ghana.
    Jan says you may be speaking in the Seattle area in October. We invite you to dinner or lunch if your schedule permits.
    Our thoughts, prayers, and love are with you and your family.
    Pete

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